Old Habits Die Hard…

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m an avid reader.  I know, big shock, right? My husband refers to reading as my “habit” – saying it in a way that clearly implies he feels I could benefit from a 5-step program and a sponsor.  I found this amusing as hell, images of me locking myself in the bathroom so I could just get a quick fix… well, okay, he may have a small point.

Anyway, moving on.  I read a lot, and I’m not all that picky about what I will read.  I have my favorites, and I’ve got some preconceived notions about certain genres you’d be hard pressed to change my mind about.  But overall, I’m a pretty open-minded reader.

Usually, I’ll have four or five books going at a time so I can flip back and forth depending on my mood.  Take right now, for example. I’m in the middle of three different books on my Kindle, two hard copies from the library, one I bought from the used bookstore Tuesday, and two audiobooks.  And not one of them is the same genre.  For the sake of honesty, two of them are Stephen King books, but one is nonfiction, so they don’t count.  Which is irrelevant anyway. The pile of books I'm currently reading that dominates my nightstand.

The point of me telling you this is so you don’t roll your eyes when I tell you that I’ve become kind of a self-help book junkie.

Don’t get me wrong.  If the first chapter of a book tells me that my road to inner peace is paved with affirmations, I’m out.

I don’t need to waste my time reading books that are going to tell me all about the power of positive thinking.  We all know, on some basic level, that negative self-talk can be a buzzkill at best, and deadly at worst.  But we also know, or at least, I  know, that people who walk around all day shitting sunshine and happiness without fail are creepy and unsettling.  There has to be some bad in there to balance it all out.  Otherwise, how could you genuinely appreciate all of the good?

Over the last couple of years, I have become somewhat of a connoisseur of self-help books.  From the ones that don’t really seem to have any intention of actually helping the reader, to the ones that scream “You are amazing and your imperfections are amazing, and you eat that second brownie because all of that amazingness deserves to be rewarded!” at you.  Actually, I’m convinced some of these books are actually designed to give you new, different problems, so you have to go buy new, different books.

See, it goes something like this:

I am going to love myself for who I am, warts and all.  I do deserve that brownie because I am amazing.  I am my best friend, and I don’t judge myself!

Then, two months later, after your doctor has told you that you’ve gained 17lbs, and you are putting yourself at risk of diabetes if you don’t stop eating brownies every time you feel the need to remind yourself how much you love yourself, you re-evaluate, and pick a different book.

God, I need to stop eating my feelings!  I’m going to start confronting my problems, and being the stronger, more assertive me!  I will no longer suppress my feelings with food, I am going to say it like it is from this moment forward!

Then, two months later, you may have lost a few pounds because you are no longer eating your feelings, but you’ve probably also lost some relationships along the way too.  Because nobody likes it when they’re merrily going about their own lives, and you suddenly show up with the most dominating opinion in the room.  About them.   Without any acknowledgment of your own issues.  Because you are too busy telling them what their issues are.  So, another book gets picked up.

Why am I so determined to self-sabotage?  Why do I drive everyone away?  I need to look at what motivates me!  Forget feelings, I need to focus on my actions!  It’s time to start doing more things for me! 

So.  First, you filled yourself with love in the form of brownies. Then, you swallowed your feelings in order to tell everyone else what their feelings were. Then, you decided the best way to prevent yourself from sabotaging yourself was to only focus on yourself.  Annnd you’re likely back to square one.  It’s baffling!  The cycle just goes around and around. A million variations of the same damn dance.

It’s like one of those walking escalators they have at Disney World and overcrowded airports. You get on it, and you’re going and it’s all good, and then you step off and the whole world feels disorienting for a second because your brain forgot what it’s like to stand still and just be there.

That’s what depression feels like, to me, anyway.  Like I forgot to show up and exist.  I could see all of the people moving around, going about their lives, but they were all too separate from me for me to reach.  And once I finally caught up to them all, nothing would come into focus.  It’s a bizarre and unsettling feeling, especially in the context of my life.  Which brings me back to all the self-help books.

Sometimes, I’ll read one, and think to myself Holy shit!  That’s amazing!  It’s so simple, why didn’t I think of that?  And other times, I’ll read something and think to myself Do people really buy into this BS?  Because really, it’s all about what connects to your life, and your experiences.  The things that feel relevant to me could very well seem trite and ridiculous to you.  Which left me to wonder about a lot.  Is there a point to reading these books?  Yes, I think there definitely can be.

Honestly, sometimes it’s just to know that someone else’s head may be a bit more screwed up than my own.  But more than that, they serve as a reminder that there is no solution.  There’s no big answer.  No giant computer is going to tell me that 42 is what I’m looking for so I should just sit down, shut up, and be happy with it.

I want to explore the ideas more.  The main, consistent themes that pop up in these books.  I’d like to play a few games of comparison with them.  What is the difference between self-care and self-preservation, and at what point does it make you selfish?  When is it perfectly reasonable to be angry?  How angry is considered reasonable?  Where is the line between working on myself, and focusing on other people?  Does the hamster really need a second ball to run around in?  Oops.  Not that last one.  Bit of a slip up there.  We’ll talk about Jerry on another day.

The point is, there’s no universal system here.  No one-size-fits-all psychobabble found in a pretty package.  Hell, maybe you’re a perfectly adjusted person with no reason to feel anything but complete contentment and satisfaction with your life.  If that’s true, well… honestly, though, that’s just a bit weird.

For the most part, we all have our hang-ups.  We all have the things about ourselves that we’d like to fix, or change, or maybe just dust off and bring out to show around a bit.  And why isn’t that okay?

My husband and I got into an argument the other night about something inane, and in a moment of genuine frustration, he said “God!  You’re just so self-destructive!”  I sat there for a minute and just blinked at that.  Because, well, he’s not wrong.  I mean, he was wrong right then.  At that point, I was being self-righteous, which is totally a different thing.  But in my life, I have been known to be self-destructive.  And I sat there thinking, why?  I mean, what the hell is the point of it?

If you’re hanging on here for the answer, you’re going to be disappointed.  Because the truth is, I have no freaking idea why I do some of the stupid shit I do.  But I am becoming more aware of it as it’s happening.  And that counts for something in my book, because it’s a hell of a lot more than it used to be.

All these books have gotten my head circling around a lot lately, about the contradictory messages we are all fed by the world about ourselves.  Love yourself, but be skinny!  Don’t compare yourself, but be better than that kid!  Be frugal, but make sure you’ve got the latest phone with all the newest tricks!  It’s a joke.  Well, actually, it’s not.  It’s a terrifying reality.  We are living in a world full of push and pull, and there’s no resting time given.  There’s no time allotted to make up our own minds about our own feelings and that’s not okay.

Every day when I lay down for bed, I run through a list of all the things I didn’t do that day but wanted to, and I discard every excuse I gave myself for why I didn’t do those things.  Because in retrospect, in my mind, no excuse is good enough.   It doesn’t matter that I had severe cramps and wanted to crawl out of my skin and hide somewhere dark and quiet with a bottle of wine and a bowl of chocolate.  I should have taken a few extra minutes to talk to Mason about the story I was 99% certain he had completely made up.  Or, who cares that I only got a solid three hours of sleep and felt like my eyes were going to fall out of my head, I should have made a real meal for my family.  Not. Good. Enough.  That’s what it always boils down to.

When does this shit stop?

Probably never.  I don’t know that I’ll ever fully be rid of the running dialogue in my mind, the one that gets so much worse when the world is quiet.  But the only way to find out is to keep trying.  So, that’s what I’ll do.  And in the meantime, I’m going to start tearing these books apart so I can find the candy centers.

Or is that Tootsie Pops?  Damn, I could use a brownie.

thumbnail 3

 

Advertisements

Living In The Moment…

Today marks the beginning of the end of summer in our house.  School starts in exactly four weeks.  Which means we only have four weeks left to do all the things we want to do.  It also means I slowly start to adjust and tighten the schedule a bit, so it feels like less of a shock when the school days roll back around.  This summer has been pretty laid back so far.  I don’t think either of my children has gone to bed before 11pm, and they’re both sleeping in every morning – a massive and unprecedented feat for Kaleb, who typically wakes up with bad hair and a worse attitude around 5am whenever we have nothing to do.

There has, however, been one major upheaval this summer, and it’s making everyone crazy.  I took away the electronics during the weekdays.  Maybe this isn’t a big deal in your house, but in my house, it’s currently the leading cause of madness. Why would I do this?  When my husband and I both work from home?  When the boys only get along if there’s candy or money involved?  It’s like primitive torture.

I like it.

Here’s how this happened…

The first week of summer vacation was declared a universal “do whatever the hell you want just don’t fight about it” week.  They spent hours upon hours plugged in.  Mason simultaneously was watching documentaries about the tree frogs in the rainforest on his television while playing Bad Piggies on his tablet.  Kaleb had Minecraft tutorials running on his tablet while he worked on building and modifying whatever the hell they were doing on the video, on his Xbox.  It was quiet.  It was peaceful.  I sat outside and worked, got a bit of writing done, and occasionally snuck into the pool when no one was paying attention.

And then one day, I came home from yoga, all clear-headed and zen (and super gross because it was a hot Vinyasa class and I had actually spent 75 minutes convinced I was going to die), and I started making dinner while talking to my children.  I listened, as they sat at the kitchen counter and regaled me with stories.  I listened as they talked to each other excitedly, to the point where they started talking over each other, then yelling at each other, then…. Take a deep breath.

In.  Out.  Repeat.

I listened to my children talk for a week.  They talked while I cooked.  They talked while we walked through the grocery store.  They talked while we drove to doctor’s appointments.  They talked in the waiting room of the dentist’s office.  Because really, my kids don’t actually ever stop talking, even when they are alone.  Regardless, a pattern had begun to emerge, and it was starting to disturb me.  My kids had spent all of this time talking.  Every moment that we were together, they were gabbing and yammering on and on.  And not one time, in that whole week, did either one of them say anything about anything that was real.

They spent the entire week talking about videos, games, Minecraft, Skylanders, Youtube, and Portal.  No mention of chemistry (Kaleb’s current science love).  No mention of the bugs in the backyard or the frog on the mailbox.  No mention of going to the beach, or riding bikes. No harassing me about going back to the zoo, or the science center. Just virtual reality. Fake life.  I sat there, and all I could think was “Jesus.  Ready Player One really was a freaking cautionary tale.  What have I done?”  This is not the first time I have looked at my kids and wondered what I had done to them.  Nor, I’m sure, will it be the last.  But that doesn’t make the feeling any less jarring.

I sat there, half listening as Kaleb made Portal Gun noises and Mason talked about Granny (still not 100% clear on that), and I felt very, very sad for my kids.  Why isn’t Mason outside making mud pies?  Why does Kaleb have three chemistry sets that have never even been opened?  Here again, is another glaring example of how I have let things go the easy way, because I didn’t have it in me to fight through to the better way.

So.  I decided to put a stop to it.  I sat them down and calmly explained that we were officially banning electronics Monday through Friday from this point forward.  Even at night.  Even at bedtime.  Kaleb handled this like a champ.  He shrugged, said “Okay” and walked away.  Which was simply stunning in some ways, but also kind of expected.

Kaleb doesn’t tend to lose his shit over things like that, unless he’s actively engaged in something and I take it away right that moment.  If that is going to happen, I need to spend five minutes pumping myself up in the hallway like I’m in the locker room right before the Superbowl.  Bouncing on my toes, going all King Kong on my chest and telling myself “You’ve got this!  You’re going to go in there and kick ass!  Yeah!”  It usually ends with us both in tears.  Kind of like Tom Brady after facing The Eagles.  Only a lot less enjoyable for me.

Anyway.  Kaleb handled this concept well.  Mason, on the other hand, did not.  He was flabbergasted.  Boggled.  Disbelieving.  Shocked and downright angry.  It has been over a month of this, and still, Mason doesn’t believe I’m really doing this to him.  Every day we have a slightly varied version of the same conversation.  That conversation goes like this:

Me: “Good morning Mase-face!”

Mason: “Hi Momma!”

“How’d you sleep?”

“Good.  Can I have my Roku remote?”

“No.  Did you have any dreams?”

“I don’t know.  Why can’t I have my remote?”

“Because it’s (insert day of the week here), and we don’t do electronics on week days, remember?”

“No it isn’t! It’s Sunday!”

“No lovey, it’s not.”

“But why can’t I have it?  Why can’t we have electronics on weekdays?  That’s stupid!  I want my remote!”

“Sorry kid, there are plenty of other things to do.”

“No there isn’t!  I’m not coloring! Coloring is stupid!  And I’m not swimming alone!  I can’t go outside, I’ll get bit by the bugs!  The LEGOS always break and I have nothing to do!”

“Cool it, Mase.  You’re not going to die of boredom.”

“You just hate me!”

“Huh.  That was certainly very dramatic.  I like the little foot stomp you threw in at the end.”

“Please, Mom?  Please?  I have an idea! Why don’t we do this instead?  Why don’t I get my Roku on Mondays, and then I can have my tablet on Tuesdays, and I can have the Xbox on Wednesdays and the PlayStation on Thursdays, and on Friday I’ll have nothing.  Won’t that be good?”

“First of all, we don’t own a PlayStation, so I’m not sure where that even came from.  And no, that will not be good.  That defeats the purpose of no electronics on weekdays.  Having a different electronic on corresponding days of the week is not how this works.  Go find something to do.”

*Sobbing loudly*

“Why don’t you ever want me to have anything I want?  You don’t want me to be happy!”

“Seriously Mason.  You’re riding on my nerves now.  Go find something to do.”  He huffs.  He puffs.  He crosses his arms, slams his little body in the chair next to me, and audibly pouts.

**Fast Forward Five Minutes**

Husband: “Where’s Mase?”

“Outside.  With his bug kit.  Torturing the local wildlife.”

Mason: “Mom!  You have to come see this!  I caught a lizard!  He doesn’t have a tail!  This is SO cool!”

Me: “Looks like he didn’t die from electronic deprivation.”

Husband:  Snorts a laugh and walks away.

Guys.  This happens every day.  My child goes through the stages of grief every single morning when I tell him he cannot turn on the television set.  It’s insane.  And a bit frightening.

Every morning, as Mason goes through his grief stages, that scared, damaged girl in the back of my mind pops her head out of the fog and whispers “Just let him have the damn thing so you can be left alone”.  And every morning, I have to Whack-A-Mole her ass back where she belongs, because I don’t want to be left alone.  That’s not the person I want to be.  It’s the person I was, and I’ll carry her, and her shitty baggage around with me.  But she doesn’t win.  Not as long as I remember to keep knocking her back down when she springs up.

On the upside, the Legos have been dusted off.  The books on snakes and reptiles Mason found in the Reference section of the library are well read.  We’ve done science experiments. Mason has gone from barely swimming to the king of the pool.  Kaleb has made a pretty sizable dent in his summer reading list.  We finished Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire.  Now, he’s reading me a book titled Willpower, and we are researching the failure stories of successful people for life-goal inspiration.  We spent more than five hours on the fourth of July playing catch and doing crossword puzzles.  No phones.  No tablets.  And no complaining.

As I said earlier, this has been a lazy summer so far.  It’s also been loud, and messy, and dramatic.  Yet somehow, my kids are happier than they were that first week of summer.  The conversations that float to me while I’m making dinner now are about the similarities between crocodiles and dinosaurs.  About the origin stories of the elements on the periodic table (for real, that’s really a thing that has been happening.  I didn’t know the elements even had origin stories, but they do now).  There’s been more laughter, more silliness, and less irritability.  Also, less Portal Gun noises, and that is always a win in my book.

Fourth Of July

Watching the fireworks

 

*End Note #1*

I thought I should add a list here of ways in which Mason has actively tried to earn his electronics back in the last week.  Just for fun.

  • Mason: “Mom!  Come see my room!”  So I do.  I stand there, having no idea what I’m supposed to be looking for.  It looks pretty much like it always does.  “Look!  You didn’t even have to ask me!  It’s clean!  Look at my bed!  I made it!”  I nod approvingly.  He did make his bed.  Kind of.  In the sense that there is now a small space not occupied with stuffed animals that he may or may not be able to fit in.  I congratulate him on this achievement.  He beams at me.  “So….?”  I look at him questioningly.  “Well?  Can I have a reward?  Like my Roku stick?”  I left the room.
  • “I am NEVER going outside again if you don’t give me my electronics!  I will stay inside forever!”  I shrug.  This has no bearing on me.  I work from the porch.
  • “If you give me my tablet, I promise I’ll never pee on the toilet seat again.”  Even Kaleb rolled his eyes at that one.  Let me just apologize in advance to whoever ends up marrying my kid.  He will likely pee on the toilet seat for the rest of his life.  I am sorry about this.  On the plus side, he’s an excellent toilet scrubber.
  • “Mom!  Kaleb is making Portal Gun noises!  It’s really annoying!  You have to give me my remote so I don’t have to listen to him!”
  • “Mom, want me to read to you about these snakes?”  I say sure.  He proceeds to spend twenty minutes making up insane and utterly impossible facts about the photos of snakes in his current library book. Snaps the book shut with a triumphant grin.  “Aren’t you proud?  You learned so much about snakes!  I deserve a reward.”  I inform him that practicing reading is its own reward.  I am given a death glare that would certainly make Vader proud.
  • “Fine!  I guess I’ll just lay here and be bored until I die!”  This lasted approximately four seconds, because the dog licked him in the face.
  • He asked his father at least a dozen times to intervene on his behalf.  Thankfully, I married a very smart man, who promptly shut Mason down, saying “Oh no, leave me out of this.”

 

*End Note #2*

My intention last week was to have this post be about self-care, something I will be writing about.  However, Mason’s epic grief tantrum this morning was more inspirational than usual.  So, next time.  Probably.

 

I Pity The Fool…

Yesterday was a mixed bag for me.  For starters, when Kaleb had his yearly physical on Tuesday, he couldn’t read the eye chart – which was bizarre considering he’d never had a problem reading it in years before.  Honestly, at first the nurse and I both thought he was just screwing around – when we realized he really couldn’t see it I immediately called Sho-Sho to see if she could get him an appointment to have his eyes checked.  So, yesterday morning I picked him up from school for his eye appointment.  Honestly, I was anxious.  Nobody likes having someone messing around with their eyes, and Kaleb had only been to the optometrist one other time, when he was way younger.  I prepped him as best I could, and promised if he was brave and did as the doctor asked I would put Minecraft on his tablet and he could play after he got home from school until dinner time (He’s on the tail end of an electronics ban).

So, off we went.  It helped that the eye doctor is a friend and mentor to my mom, and the same person who gives me my exams – she also knew enough about Kaleb to take a really light approach with him.  After a series of tests, which he handled like a champ, we were informed that he’s near-sighted.  After the issue at his physical, I couldn’t say I was totally surprised, yet I was still a little shocked.  So, the boy needs glasses.

12314131_10205625842460815_2187498291576595588_n

 

This should be interesting…

The appointment took way longer than I expected, so I ended up just bringing him home with me, since there was only an hour left of school and there wasn’t a whole lot of sense in sending him back, especially when his eyes were going to be sensitive to the light for a while.  As promised, Minecraft (the newest obsession) was installed on his tablet, and off he went to play.

Kaleb’s first flag football game of the season was at 5:45 last night, so we ate an early dinner, loaded up the car and headed out.  He was really excited to play (even though it’s not “real football”), and I spent the car ride reminding him of what he should (and shouldn’t) be doing on the field.  By the time we got there he was pumped and ready to go.  He helped me carry the stuff out from the car, and then took off to join his team.  It was obvious right from the start that it was going to be a bit of a difficult night.  Not like he wasn’t going to behave, but he was really spooled up, and I could tell immediately that he was going to be all over the place.  His coach is a good guy, and super patient with him, even when Kaleb is jumping all over him and constantly invading his personal space.

The game started, and things didn’t get off to the best start for Kaleb.  He was told where he needed to stand, but he was too busy spinning around and shouting to really pay attention.  His teammates were getting frustrated with him, but eventually he pulled it together and got into position.  As the game progressed things headed downhill.  Kaleb was on offense, standing to the right of the center, supposed to be blocking.  Time after time he would get distracted and his teammates would have to yell to him until he would snap out of it and go where he was supposed to.  After each and every play he would shout and scream – if his team progressed, he would scream “Yeeeeeeesssss!” and basically try to fist-bump everyone – if they didn’t gain any ground or missed a catch he would scream “Nooooooo!” and stomp around in circles for a minute.

Regardless of any of this, I’m proud of him.  When the ball is snapped he’s paying attention, and at least trying to block.  He’s keeping his hands to himself, and he’s having fun.  Three years ago I couldn’t even imagine that he’d be out on a football field, interacting socially, of his own free will.  But he’s out there, and he’s doing it.

The clock continued to count down, and about ten minutes into the first twenty minute half I’m frustrated for him.  The kids on the other team are laughing at him, his own teammates are frustrated with him, and he doesn’t realize any of it is going on.  And then it all went to hell – for me anyway.

The lady sitting to my left had a kid on Kaleb’s team.  She and another woman had been talking for the majority of the game, and I’ve picked up on enough snippets of their conversation to learn that they’re both teachers (though I have no idea where).  At this point, the kid playing center is yelling at Kaleb and telling him (once again) where his position is.  Kaleb at this point finally stands where he’s told with a little huff and a stomp – not the angry kind, but the kind of out of control, wild and crazy Kaleb mode kind.

Then the women next to me start commenting.  Now granted, we got there early enough they obviously don’t realize they’re talking about my kid.  But the fact of the matter is, they’re sitting in a group of people they don’t know – it’s poor form to talk smack about someone else’s kid – especially when that kid’s parents could be sitting right next to you.  The conversation started like this:

“That’s how I feel all day long.  I just told you what to do, why don’t you do it?”

“I know, right?  What is he doing?”

“*giggling*  I don’t know.  How many times do you have to be told where to stand before you do it?”

“What is wrong with that kid?”

You want to know what is wrong with that kid?  NOTHING.  He’s accomplishing a goal, despite so many odds stacked against him.  Hell, he can’t even see the ball and he’s still out there!  Here’s the real question – what is wrong with you?!  He’s a little kid, sure he’s all over the place, but he’s still just a kid.  And come on now, seriously, at this point it’s not hard to see that he’s different from the other kids.  You’re teachers – are you telling me you have had absolutely no interaction with special needs kids?  But what kills me is the absolute gall.  You wanna talk shit about my boy?  Fine.  But do it when you get home.  Not when you’re sitting on the sidelines with a bunch of other parents.  If you’re going to be cruel to a little boy who just wants to be part of the team, do it where other people don’t have to sit and listen to you spew your ignorance.

At this point, I’m in a spot.  I could turn my head and throw a bunch of venom in my voice, informing them that he’s autistic.  I could start a fight.  I could be a complete and utter bitch – we all know I’m more than capable of it.  But I don’t.  I opt instead to do what these women obviously aren’t capable of doing.  I hold my damn tongue.  First of all – my kid’s abilities and limitations are absolutely none of your business.  Second – the last thing I want is to have these horrible jerks looking at me with pity.  They don’t get to pity me – it’s my turn to pity them.  Your world is tiny compared to mine.  My mind is open, my heart is open, and I was at least raised with enough class to keep my thoughts to myself if they weren’t polite (when in the company of strangers at least!).

So I kept my mouth to myself, as I so often tell the boys to do.  I left fingernail indentations in my palms, but I kept my mouth to myself.  When halftime came and the kids all came running over to the sidelines, I gave Kaleb a high-five and handed him his water.  While he drank I reminded him once again not to yell in people’s faces, or hang off the coaches, and try really hard to get into position when the rest of his team does.  I didn’t even glance at the women next to me.  Until he went back to the huddle.  Then I looked – and offered a silent challenge.  Say another word.  Now you know.  That kid you were talking about?  His mother is sitting right here.  Say something else.  I dare you.

The last play of the game, the other team had scored and was going for a two point conversion.  Kaleb actually managed to strip the flag off the kid with the ball – after he’d already crossed the line and got the points – but that doesn’t matter.  He did it – he really, really did it – and he was so proud.  He wasn’t the only one.  I wanted to take that flag home and put it in a frame.

I’m not going to lie, after we got home and the kids got settled into bed, Watson (our elf) moved to a new locale and I had a glass of wine – I cried.  My heart hurt for my Monster Man.  He was doing something he loved – and yes, he was doing it poorly, but he was still going out there and putting in the effort.  He shows up to every practice and every game.  He watches training videos and reads articles to try and improve his game.  And all the while he’s being laughed at.  But the blessing in disguise?  He had no idea it was going on.  I did.  But he didn’t.  He just kept on being himself and enjoying the sport.

Both of the boys have games tonight, so we shall see how it goes.  But no matter what I’m proud.  I’m proud of them both for putting on their cleats and walking out onto that field with their heads held high.  And I will sit there and cheer for them both, for every time they manage a block, or strip a flag.  I’ll cheer, and I’ll know that in this moment, we are the real winners – no matter the outcome of the game.

Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

Okay, over the last two years I’ve struggled… not so much that you’ve seen because I’ve basically written four posts in two years.  I have had a million excuses why I haven’t been writing – some I’ve given to you, all I’ve fed to myself.  But I need to get back into the habit.  I need to get writing again.  I need to get back to a point where I can take some time every day and be honest with myself, without feeling guilty for doing so.

Speaking of guilt – I’m full of it lately.  I’m especially guilty of being ridiculously impatient and short tempered.  As I sit here right now, It’s 6:24am.  The boys and I leave for the bus stop in exactly 21 minutes.  They’re playing together in Kaleb’s room – which means they are three feet away from me, separated only by a glass french door, a poorly made one at that.  And they’re loud.  Which is the name of the game when they actually get together (which is basically only when they think they’re supposed to be doing anything else), and that’s okay, as long as it’s good yelling.  But I’m still in “seeking coffee” mode, and hearing that entire container of LEGOs just spill out onto the floor as they run around with the world’s most obnoxious Christmas stuffed animals ever made… It’s all I can do to sit here and tell myself to shut the hell up.

They’re playing together.  That’s progress.  They’re playing together in Kaleb’s room and he’s not screaming at his brother to get out while Mason cries and sobs dramatically over some stupid toy he wants to look at (with his hands).  So what if there are now 4,562,847 LEGO pieces all over the carpet?  So what if it’s December 2nd and I’m officially over the “Let It Snow” song the ridiculous Polar Bear and Penguin are singing?  They’re playing.  And I’m drinking this cup of coffee so fast I may end up burning my esophagus in the process, in an effort to not care so damn much.

I need to get off my horse and look at my kids for who and what they are – tiny people with big voices, big imaginations, and apparently access to the world’s most annoying sounds locked in their little brains.  But they are just that – kids.  So why is it so damn hard for me to let them be?  Why is it so hard to sit here right now and keep myself from scolding them on their volume; their mess; their “backing up sounds” (which genuinely make you feel like someone is scratching your tombstone after about thirty seconds)?  Where did all of my patience go?  Where did the humor in the situation go?  Because that’s the honest problem here.  I stopped writing, because I stopped being able to find the situations funny.  It wasn’t funny when Kaleb continuously urinated all over his bedroom for six months straight.  It wasn’t funny when he suddenly lost 20lbs over two months, and there wasn’t a damn cause any doctor could find.  It wasn’t funny when Mason started peeing on his carpet, because he loves to emulate Kaleb.  It wasn’t funny when the dog started following suit, because, well, he’s a damn dog – if there’s pee, he’s gonna cover it up with his own.  Sometimes my life isn’t funny.  More so than not lately.

So I’m going to shake things up.  This is my space.  This is my place, my soapbox, and I’m going to use it.  But it won’t always be funny.  Sometimes it’ll be ugly.  Sometimes it’ll be heart-wrenching, and sometimes it’ll be gross, and maybe it’ll be funny on occasion.  But that’s my life – in true form – that’s what my world is.  I can’t sit here and pretend that there aren’t days I wake up and want to just scream.  That there aren’t times I lock myself in the bathroom just to cry for a few minutes – sometimes happy tears, sometimes tears that stem from frustration, anger, or fear.  Life is messy.  Life with autism is even more so.

I’m going to try.  I’m going to try to get back to a point where I can write on here and really let go of some of the impatience and frustration.  And I’m going to do it honestly.  Because I need this, and maybe some of you out there need it too.

Today though, I’d like to share a big moment.

Monday afternoon I was putting my empty Christmas bins back in the attic, while the boys were… just being themselves.  Kaleb was waiting for me to finish picking up because he wanted to do an ornament craft that required supplies I had to fish out of my closet.  Mason was… well I don’t really even know what Mase was doing, biding his time until I couldn’t see him, I suppose.  All of a sudden, as I’m coming down off the ladder the both of them start shrieking and screaming.  Mason is crying, Kaleb is shouting, pandemonium had broken out in the kitchen.

I ran in from the garage to figure out what was going on.  Turns out, Mason took the box of candy canes off the counter (thus, biding his time), which he was not supposed to do.  Kaleb then took the candy canes from Mase, which he is not supposed to do (if your brother does something wrong – come get mom – it’s not your job to police him, it’s mine).  Which started the shouting, which lead to smacking and hitting.  Lately, I’ve been in a “Welcome To Thunder-dome” mood – I’m not stepping in when you two go at it anymore.  Learn how to resolve your problems.  By the time I had reached the kitchen and Kaleb told me what happened, Mason had locked himself in his room and was sobbing dramatically (I’m going to make millions off this kid when Hollywood gets ahold of him).  Kaleb wanted me to get the craft supplies and I said no, sorry kid, but you don’t get rewarded for hitting your brother.  He told me he was sorry, and was promptly informed that I’m not the one who needed the apology, I’m not the one he hurt.

*Side note* I’ve been struggling a lot lately to explain to Kaleb the meaning behind a genuine apology.  He’ll do something wrong, and apologize only because he believes it will get him what he wants.  Suggestions on how to rectify this are greatly appreciated.

So, he goes to Mason’s door, and tries to talk to Mase, who yells at him (through a slew of dramatic sobs) to go away.  Kaleb comes back to me and says “Well, he’s never going to accept my apology.”  To which I reply, “Then I guess you’d better figure out a way to make things right.”  So for five minutes Kaleb just stands in the kitchen, thinking.

I’m out on the porch when Mason finally decides to leave his room, all hiccups and stifled sobs (seriously, when did my kid start manifesting Sarah Bernhardt?).  He walks out to the kitchen and Kaleb looks at him and says “Mason, I’m really sorry.  I shouldn’t have taken the candy canes and it was wrong to hit you”

*Whoa.  Back the truck up.  Did that just leave his mouth?  For real?!

Mase then says (again, he’s still doing the can’t catch my breath from crying so hard thing) “It wasn’t your fault.  It was my fault.  I shouldn’t have taken the candy canes.”

*WHAT?!  What is going on here?  Did I fall into an alternate universe?

Kaleb says “No, it was both of our fault.  You shouldn’t have taken the candy canes, but I shouldn’t have taken them from you, and we shouldn’t have hit each other.”

*That’s it.  Who are you and what have you done with my children?

After basically a repeat of the whole conversation when Mase once again tried to take all the blame and Kaleb once again took responsibility for his part in it, they both apologized and forgave each other.  Meanwhile I’m convinced I’m having a stroke, or maybe the stress has finally gotten to me and I’m hallucinating.

They came to me together and said they accepted each other’s apologies and asked if we could make ornaments.  Um.  Yeah.  Yep.  You can make all the ornaments you want after that little display.  And they did.

IMG_3824I was humbled, and flabbergasted, and astonished, and so very proud.  They might actually turn out to be okay humans one day.

It just reminds me, once more, that kids are full of surprises – and sometimes those surprises don’t even make you want to throw up in your mouth a little.

Happy Wednesday people, thanks for tuning in.

The Sound Of Silence…

First off, it is colder than hell outside.  And while you may think that’s an obvious (and somewhat stupid) statement – let me just say that for some people (*ahem, me) being cold is a whole lot worse than being hot!  And yeah, I’m in Florida.  No, thankfully it is NOT snowing.  Yet, YES, I am still bitching.  I’m cold when it’s 80, you can bet your fluffy down comforter I’m freezing when it’s 30.

Anyway, I started off saying a first, so let me get to the second.  I’ve finally figured them out.  My kids.  Frighteningly enough, part of the riddle has been solved.  No, really, it’s actually pretty scary.

Oh, and yeah, third.  I’m back.  Again.  I’ve been remiss.   Yada yada… busy, busy.  Life and all that crap.  So, I offer no more empty “I’m back for real and gonna make this a weekly thing” business, because I’m being honest, and I honestly cannot guarantee when I’ll actually write anything.  But I’m writing this, so I’m going to go ahead and be happy with that.

Back to the second.  The boys.  My favorite Monsters.  Holy realization moment.  Kaleb is me.  Mase is totally Daddy.  And while they both have parts of us in some ways (I’ll man up and take blame for the road rage) – it isn’t the same.  Allow me to explain…

I need recognition for things I do well.  No kidding, serious verbal recognition.  I thrive on it.  I will keep doing the things you verbally recognize and appreciate I do.  If you don’t … well.  I tend to stop doing them.  Because I feel like they (and I, by extension) go unnoticed.  I need visual stimulation.  I need to be able to escape from reality though books, music and other such things when I get overwhelmed with life, because otherwise I end up over-thinking everything and my anxiety gets bad enough that I stop functioning like a normal person should.  I require step-by-step instruction when introduced to something new because otherwise I will totally go off book, and let’s be honest – that never ends well.

I don’t respond to hounding or constant reminders – that feels more like a piano hanging over my head by a string than a motivation to remember something.  My memory is lax when it comes to a lot of things because there is almost always something bigger and more imminent looming in the forefront of my mind, even if that particular thing seems small to anyone else.  Threats never work with me, because it isn’t real if it isn’t right there in front of me.

I know, to an extent, how much this sucks for the people in my life who want to convey important things to me.  Because while I can spend hours, days, or weeks consumed with fictional worlds, I cannot genuinely envision my life without the things that are already in it.  I forget simple tasks, silly things people ask me to do for them, things I usually start to do (because they mean a lot to people who mean a lot), and then I get bogged down by other things.  Those big important things that are consuming my thoughts like endless riders on a Merry-Go-Round.  Or I get overwhelmed.  I don’t know what to do first.  I start a million things at once and finish exactly… none.  I let people down constantly.  I let myself down constantly.  Because the minute my mind leaves one topic, another crops up, and the one that is right there is the one that ends up being most important.  I can’t imagine how petty and selfish that must sound to you.

Honestly, it sounds horrible to me, and I’m talking about myself.

But this is me on my most honest level.

***Okay, I know I said before that I need recognition – but not on this.  I’m not looking for validation here.  I’m looking to be brutally honest with myself as a person.  So the first person who tries to offer me an excuse for the behavior I have just admitted to will be promptly showed the door ***

I’ve been like that forever.  Ask my mom.  She could ground me for weeks.  I would shrug and walk away.  What did I care?  But to take my most prized things?  My books, my music… the world would all but collapse as far as I was concerned.  I was actually a decent student. I did my homework.  Every day… but I’d forget to turn it in.  Every day.  I’d forget to put it in my bag.  It wasn’t because there was something else I wanted to do; it was more because I would finish that task and move on to something else that was now a big deal.  But even then…when I’d really get in trouble (and believe me, I totally deserved it when I did.  I was a sh*t), I’d scream, and I’d cry – but to what end?  Did I actually do what I was supposed to have done in the first place?  Eh…. Usually not.  I had the kind of attitude that would send people running for the hills faster than you could say “Call SuperNanny!”

1099 i am your parent 1

Kaleb’s like that.  He’s stubborn.   He has a few interests that really encompass him.  And he has a few passing interests, ones he could do without, but they entertain him when all else fails.  He’s got an incredible imagination, and an admirable amount of determination.  Add that to his confidence in himself and his growing skill-set… in 20 years he will be a force nobody will want to reckon with.  But as a child…

I want to go back in time and pick up every hair I must have caused my mother to pull out of her head.

His attention span is exactly that of a dead gnat – unless what he’s looking at involves a book of LEGO instructions, Marvel Superheroes, or something that will piss off his brother.  He forgets to do something about five seconds after you tell him, unless it is either A. written down; B. directly in front of him; or C. beneficial to him in some very literal way.    Everything is a personal attack.  And I do mean everything.  It is your fault he’s screaming, because you told him to use his napkin and he didn’t want to use his napkin, so therefore it is your fault he’s screaming.  See the logic?

That’s the thing.  You have to actually see the logic to understand him.  His world consists of exactly two things, and two things only:  What makes him happy, and What makes him not happy.  I wasn’t quite that bad as a kid.  But, the more I think about how he thinks, the more I understand it.  For Kaleb, everything is immediate.  We can put him in a five minute time-out, but at the end of that five minutes, his mind has wandered all over the place, and he genuinely might not remember why he was in trouble.  Sure he can remember every name of every Spiderman Nemesis – but that is inherently important to him.  At least, it’s a whole lot more important than remembering to use a napkin.

Then again, there are the times he just screams – I mean really, really screams… I think that’s honestly just to make me completely crazy.  Mason had to have taught him that.

I keep asking myself how do I get through to him?

The honest answer is…. I probably won’t.  I probably won’t be the one to do it.  For me, it was a couple of incredible teachers who banned together and changed a great many of my perspectives.  Don’t get me wrong, I was still a total shit when I was at home.  And my mom never stopped trying.  She never gave up on me, or the future she wanted for me.  I was just not ready to listen to her.  At the same time, for once she wasn’t the only one fighting for me.  I worked a bit harder for my future.  I responded to people differently.  I stopped forming so many arguments against my mom in my head and started listening to what she was saying, even though she didn’t know that (and still probably thinks talking to me is the equivalent of talking to a stack of bricks).

But as I pointed out in the beginning of all this – I am in many ways still who I was a kid.  I’m a more grown-up version, sure.  The problems have changed, they’ve gotten bigger, more challenging.  They aren’t just my problems anymore.  They’re the problems of everyone I love and care about.  Myself included.  But it’s sobering to realize as a parent, that there might be a lot more to that old saying about taking a village to raise a child.  Kaleb’s teachers get through to him in times when I can’t.  There are days when they ask me how we handle X, Y, & Z when all I want to do is ask how they got past A & B.

Then, there’s Mase.  Ooooohhhhh The Mase Bug.

It started off as a totally absurd Dora-Inspired nick-name.  The kind of thing that starts because it’s too late for the hospital to do anything but batten down the hatches and tell you to hold on.  An hour later you find yourself face-to-face with this little dude (who may just have the most expressive eyes on Earth), while silently still singing the song Dora sang to help the Mommy Bug-a-bug find her baby bug-a-bug in the episode you fell asleep watching with your toddler.  Or… maybe I wasn’t singing so silently.

Now, I actually think it might be a thingThe Mase Bug.  He’s cute.  He bats those ridiculous eyelashes over those big brown eyes and you want to smoosh his little cheeks.  He says goofy, silly things, and makes absolutely no sense, and you just adore it.  Despite the fact that he’s four, and has a perfectly functional vocabulary he is completely competent in using.

My curious, destructive, charming, deceptively smart boy.  He is his daddy’s clone.  He’s too smart, and too distracted.  By everything and nothing.  He may not being paying attention outwardly, but he is fully tuned in when you think he isn’t.  He wants everything his way, otherwise, well… you can just kiss that cute little butt of his and wish him safe travels – ‘cause he will cease existing in your world the minute you stop making sense in his.  Now, to be fair, both boys are very much like that.  But Kaleb lets you know when you’ve stepped off his planet (usually by screaming that you are wrong).  Mason just checks out.  He won’t return the key – I swear he’s a time travelling Muse for The Eagles.  He’ll check out any time he wants – but he won’t ever leave.

You can sit with him and talk and talk and talk to him until you are rainbow colored.  But unless what you are saying consists of certain key words or phrases, you could be talking ancient Greek.  ‘Cause he is not listening.  He’s thinking about a hundred different other things.  He isn’t building like his big brother.  He’s not dreaming of LEGOs or colored pencils.  He’s thinking about how one car went faster than the other, and he is wondering why.  He’s ripping apart brand new toys just to figure out where things are, where they’d be better suited, and why other things are missing.

He wants to watch me cook, because he wants to figure out what the difference is between a raw egg and a scrambled egg.  Start to finish, he has to understand the entire process or he is not satisfied.  He wants to know why the dome light comes on in the car when the door is opened but turns back off when it’s closed.  He doesn’t just want to know, but needs to know the how and the why.  He wants it faster, louder, and bigger.  And if he has to rip something apart to see what was different inside this toy, versus that toy – he will do it in a heartbeat.

He’s singled minded, and determined.  He’s brilliant, but stubbornly makes everyone show him how to do everything multiple times before he’s satisfied knowing he can do it himself.  He’s loving, but only to certain people at certain times.  He’s distant, but he feels so strongly for those he loves, it’s almost become a defense.   By all accounts – he’s just like Daddy. Smart, sweet, stubborn, with an insatiable curiosity, and a unique, yet disquieting way of viewing the world.

They are us.  Our product.  Both of them.  Beautiful.  Strong.  Stubborn.  Isolated inside a world filled with people that love them, but don’t quite understand them.  Sometimes angry at the hands they’ve been dealt, when they played so much better than everyone else at the table.  Loyal.  Fun.  Joyous.  Intelligent.  Underestimated.  Overestimated.  Such a delirious mix of light and dark.

I forget as a parent (a lot), how I was as a kid.  How singled minded I was.  How absolutely focused I got on the things that interested me.  The things that gave me joy just by doing them on my own.  The things that made me… “Me”.  I’ve become so focused as an adult on making my kids “well rounded” that I forget that a part of becoming an adult is honing those solo interests.  Screaming when you feel like you’re going to explode.  The tantrums and the fights about the fairness of life.  Those things that make me so mad as a parent – I honestly couldn’t count how many of those I put my mom through when I was growing up.  They’re a part of growing up.  You don’t just wake up one day and realize “I’m 4, I should be potty trained.”  Or, “I’m 7, I can tie my shoes.”  Those are things you learn as you go.  Things other people teach you.  Frustration, anger, sadness, confusion – that’s part of life whether you’re a child or an adult.  You only learn how to channel and process those things by watching the adults in your life.

Of course, no matter how much I kicked and screamed I still had to do my math homework – but I was a hell of a lot more prone to do it (and turn it in…) if that meant I got an extra 20 minutes to do something I genuinely enjoyed at the end of the day.  Some days that was watching Gilmore Girls with my mom (Yes, I just did totally out you Mom, sorry).  Some days that was sitting on the kitchen counter picking apples out of the pie mix Nana was making when (I thought) she wasn’t looking.  Or going upstairs and getting lost in a story.  Every day I was a different version of myself.  Some days I wanted companionship, some days I didn’t.  Even as a small child.  That’s an easy thing to forget.

I think maybe it’s time we all take a few minutes to remember ourselves as kids – our HONEST selves.  How we really were, not how we like to think we were, and try to imagine applying it our lives now.

Think about what motivates you now – what motivates your spouse – what motivates your kids…

And I don’t mean money, work, grown up crap.  I said think like a KID. A little kid.  Little kids don’t think about money – at least not in concrete terms.  They think about the abstract.  If you could do one thing at the end of the day for twenty minutes, what would it be?   What about your spouse?  Your kids?  Not a group activity – save that for the weekends or holidays.  Not some sibling activity to force your kids to get along (BTW, if you have one of those I am beyond open to suggestions).  Not something for someone else either.  Be selfish, be abstract.  Think like a child.  Find a true, free, honest reward for surviving the day.

I’d spend twenty minutes writing.  Or doing something to further it.  Research, outlines, whatever – something just for me.  I’d give Daddy twenty minutes of complete he-man time – no phones, no kids, no email, nothing but peace and the understanding that comes with a perfect match of man and machine (just for the record, if this wasn’t an abstract, I’d give him twenty minutes a day flying instead).  I’d give Kaleb 20 minutes of LEGO time.  I’d give Mason twenty minutes to talk about, throw, drive, or destroy any 3 toy vehicles of his choice.

If we all stopped looking at life like a race to be won, a battle to be waged – and started thinking about how to encourage the people next to us to be better, happier versions of themselves, instead of constantly trying to make everyone be like us, think like us, want what we want – just imagine how much better and happier we would all actually be…

The Munsters…

I’m baaaaaaack…

Though why I felt the need to make that sound like an ominous thing I have no idea.  Clearly, I’ve been gone for a while – and for that I apologize.  It’s been a simply insane 6 months.  So, today I’ll play catch up, and I swear I’ll do my best to get back on track with the Monster reports!

Let’s see, where should we start?

Oh!  I actually got married (those of you that know me are probably still pondering such a miraculous event, and those of you who were directly involved with the sanity *AKA Miss Lisa* are probably still sending thanks to the universe that it’s over)!  Growing up I never figured myself for the marrying kind.  I mean, let’s be honest here – I am a giant pain in the ass.  I’m stubborn, have an issue keeping my thoughts to myself, I absolutely loathe dishes and laundry (the two things that just never seem to go away), oh and then there’s the whole ‘crazy as a loon’ thing I’ve got going on too.  Somehow or another I managed to wind up with a man crazy and brave enough to want to marry me – and the fact that he still wanted to marry me in the midst of all of my fanatically insane wedding planning is a testament to either his own brand of lunacy, or the size of his you-know-whats!  So, anyway, here we are, married.  Eventually I’ll throw some pictures up for your viewing pleasure – after I finally pin the silly man down long enough to go through them.

So, now onto the more important things – the Monsters.

189906_10151158998383301_11179703_n

Let’s start with the main man, Kaleb.

Oh, Kaleb.  My budding thief, word connoisseurfood snob *ahem, I mean critic*, scream king, master builder, tree house dreamer, beverage expert, and all around living breathing proof that insanity is hereditary.  First things first – it was time for a medication change.  After three years, we’d hit the limit with his current medication, and after his latest growth spurt (seriously, how freaking big is he going to get?!) it was no longer doing the job.  Allow me to explain that statement.  Kaleb went from a wily, crazy, creative, loud, messy monster to… well… the truth?  A total nightmare.  We couldn’t contain him.  And I don’t mean to sound like we didn’t try – because oh good golly did we ever.  But it so wasn’t happening.  He was completely out of control.  The violent mood swings and meltdowns increased 50 fold.  The ability to stop and listen long enough for words to sink in – completely vanished.  Grocery shopping turned into a marathon game of “get in, get out, quick quick quick before the screaming causes someone to kick us out”.  Dresser drawers destroyed, toys dismantled, books shredded, ear drums pierced.

Basically, it was time for a change.  Unfortunately, our family is more like the Musters than the Cleavers, and nothing ever goes right.  For starters, the boys’ insurance plans got changed in May (can we say pain in the ass?).  Which in turn, meant we changed pediatricians – something I’d been wanting to do for a while.  However, I clearly didn’t think through the consequences of changing doctors in the middle of a state-wide game of musical chairs.  Within days I had a call from Kaleb’s neurologist informing me that due to the new pediatrician, we needed an updated referral in order to go to our appointment the following week.  So, I immediately call the new doc, requesting the very simple act of faxing over a referral so we can go to his neuro to discuss the medication change.  And I was promptly informed that they wouldn’t do it without seeing him.  Which, due to the previously referenced game, they couldn’t do until October.  Ummmmm what?!  No.  Unacceptable.  Danger Will Robinison.  I cannot wait until October.  He needs his meds changed, and he needs it now.

He needs time to adjust before school starts.  We need time to decide the correct dosage, make sure there are no negative side effects (you know, like how he rabidly devoured anything with a hint of sugar within a five mile radius when he changed his ADHD meds last summer?), and you know – chill him the hell out!  So, now I had to play a new game.  Ring around the freaking rosy with the insurance company and every pediatrician’s office in the damn county.  After a week of frustrating phone calls, I threw in the towel and requested to be sent back to pediatric hell (AKA his previous doctor’s office).  Once done – quite quickly at that, I’m pretty sure the poor lady at the insurance company has started making signs to ward off evil every time she discovered it was me on the other end of her phone – I then had the delightful task of wrangling a referral out of the world’s worst doctor’s office.  Now, don’t get me wrong – it was never the doctor I had an issue with.  It was just everything else.  The fact that I’d show up fifteen minutes early for every appointment, yet never actually see anyone until two hours past my appointment time.  The fact that nobody ever calls you back – ever.  The fact that the dragon lady receptionist wouldn’t give you a straight answer if her life depended on it.

Regardless, there I was, making a very simple request – please send an updated referral to my son’s neurologist.  The very same one you have been sending once a year since he was 18 months old.  Not so difficult.  Or so one would think.  A full month went by with me calling the neurologist every three days only to confirm that they had not yet received the referral, then calling the pediatrician to once again request that it be sent.  Finally, the lady on the phone confirmed the doctor she was sending it to – who just so happened to be the sleep specialist Kaleb hasn’t seen in years – not the neurologist.  The next day we finally got to reschedule Kaleb’s appointment, wham bam thank you ma’am!  Of course, it was for three weeks away, pushing us ever closer to the start of school.  Now, we’ve got him on new meds – but of course we’re on the lowest dose possible to start, and have to wait six weeks to go back to increase the dose if necessary (which, it most certainly is).  In the meantime, Kaleb has been a busy boy – but more on that later!

Now, on to the Mini Monster…

Ah, Mason.  Little devil.  Seriously.  Yes, he’s cute.  He’s freaking adorable.  He’s melt-in-your-mouth-sweet when he wants something from you.  He’s inquisitive as all get-out, to an excessive degree.  I mean, how many times can one person hear “what’s that?” in a fifteen minute time span without starting the slide to complete madness?  He’s also stubborn, aggressive, picky, obsessed with cars (still) and deceptively manipulative.  Oh, have I also mentioned that the kid has an arm reminiscent of a child-version of Cy Young?  I’m not joking.  If you had any idea how many times I’ve been pegged in the head by that dead-on aim you’d end up with sympathy headaches.

Not too much has changed in the world of Mase in the past few months.  His vocab is better – strangers can almost understand him more often than not!  His fine motor skills… well, we’re working on that.  He still refuses to use utensils – not that he can’t, he’s just stubborn and lazy, and prefers the easy way (can you really blame him?).  He’s still obsessed with vehicles of all mode and make.  Trucks, cars, buses, emergency vehicles, trains, boats, planes, helicopters, you name it – if it has an engine and moves, we likely have a miniature version sitting somewhere in the house suspiciously positioned for maximum foot injury.  I have to get him a new copy of his “Things That Go!” Tag book for his birthday because he reads it so often it’s hanging on by a wing and a prayer.

Mason started full-day Pre-K this year.  Cue mom getting caught fist pumping and yelling “I’m Free!” in an elementary school parking lot.

All summer long we counted the days.  7 precious hours to actually accomplish something without having to drop everything every five seconds to prevent Monster 1 from strangling Monster 2.  Or Monster 2 from throwing a giant dump truck at Monster 1’s head.  Or the destruction of the house (massive fail on that one)… 7 chaos free hours, five days a week – imagine the possibilities!  Just imagine!  We certainly did.  Dreams of solo grocery store trips and actually eating my own lunch floated through my head like relentless torture.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love my kids to death, and I’d do anything for them.  But holy crap.  Between Kaleb’s constant meltdowns and the two of them constantly at each other’s throats, it was just about impossible to even leave the house with them, let alone actually go do something fun.  Add in the cabin fever we were all experiencing by the end, and can you blame me?  I’m just proud I didn’t spend the entire first day of school curled up on the couch in my snuggy watching the freakin’ Vampire Diaries.

Anyway, back to Mase.  He’s officially a big kid now.  No, that does not mean he’s potty trained.  I swear the kid fluctuates between being convinced the toilet contains the devil, or determining the sole purpose of the device is to wash his favorite dinosaurs and matchbox cars.  But he is going to school full time now.  Now, originally, I was seriously skeptical.  Like considering getting a variance and driving him to and fro every day for the next two years to keep him in the school he was in instead of the new one.  Why, you ask?  Because he was being transferred to the school Kaleb was at 2 years ago.  The one that suspended him 17 times in a span of 3 months because the teacher quite simply (and this is a direct quote from her) “didn’t want to deal with him”.

Yeah, remember that?  Fun times.

However, I’ve got a whole lot more confidence this time around.  The reason?  There are actually a couple.  First, Mase isn’t Kaleb.  Was I worried about his brother’s reputation preceding him and making the road a bit bumpy?  Are you kidding?  I was terrified.  However, we finally got a lucky break.  When I went to the IEP meeting to discuss this upcoming year, I couldn’t have been more thrilled – he was getting a teacher I actually knew (not well, but well enough to have faith that things were going in a good direction), and liked.  I’d met her on multiple occasions while Kaleb attended the school, and I have a great deal of admiration for her – in much the same manner I do for Kaleb’s current teacher, who has turned into no less than a walking talking miracle for him.  So, that right there was a great big chunk of balm on my nerves.

The icing on the cake?  The administration has changed.  I don’t know where the old principal went, and quite frankly, I don’t care.  I don’t hate the woman, I’m sure she’s probably a generally nice lady who did her best.  However, I don’t take well to my child being treated like nothing more than a pest that won’t stop circling your head.  As much as I’d like to say she went out of her way to help him – it just isn’t true.  The VP at the school he’s at now?  I could, would, have, and will continue to say that he’s gone above and beyond.  It’s an insane comfort to know the people in charge of my child’s school actually care about the children – because I’ve met plenty that don’t in my short lifetime.  So, new administration, new teacher, new beginning.

So far Mase seems to be loving it – though I do feel bad – nobody sees the Mase-train coming until it’s steamrolled over them a couple dozen times.

So, there we have it.  New school year, new meds, oh and we finally got a golf cart!  We then promptly destroyed one of the batteries.  Yep.  We’re definitely more of the Munster type of family on this block.

the_munsters_39426

 

Everything Is Awesome…

So, I’m not going to lie, today’s IEP meeting was…

Freaking AMAZING!

1921430

I am so pumped right now, I can’t even begin to describe it.  This was honestly the best IEP meeting I have ever had, and I could not possibly be happier.  It’s such an awesome relief to finally find a school with teachers and staff who really, genuinely care about my child and his progress.  Going from last year to what he has now is such a huge difference.

First of all – despite the events of the last two weeks, everyone previously agreed that Kaleb hit a bump in the road – but considered it a temporary set-back (one we are actively working on fixing), and they are getting rid of the harness!  I cannot wait to see the look on Kaleb’s face when he hears the news he’s been waiting to hear for months.  Second, he graduated out of OT!  I simply cannot believe it.  He’s been in Occupational Therapy since he was 2.  Now he’s finally met all of his goals, his gross and fine motor skills are up to par, and he’s good to go!  That was so unexpected, it’s still sinking in.

Another piece of awesome news?  Kaleb gets to keep his teacher next year!  He will technically be in first grade, but he will stay in the EBD classroom with the Godsend of a teacher he has now.  I am beyond relieved.  The thought of hashing out next year’s arrangement, dealing with a new teacher who may or may not understand how to work with Kaleb has been haunting my sleep for weeks.  To find out that he doesn’t have to deal with any of that (and neither do I!) is an incredible relief.  And let me just tell you a little something about this teacher, while I’m on the subject.  This is the kind of person who went out of her way to consult with a Gifted teacher (despite the fact that he won’t get the classification until at least next year) to figure out the best ways to challenge Kaleb’s strengths without going too far beyond the scope of what he’s able to handle.  She’s willing to go above and beyond to help him avoid potentially overwhelming situations, without stifling him or making him feel like an outcast.  She’s a freaking gift is what she is, and I’m so glad we get to have another year with her.

We talked about the gifted program (especially when the Gen-Ed teacher was consulting, and was visibly shocked by some of Kaleb’s reading and math abilities).  We hit a bit of a snag because they cannot test until at least a year has passed since the last test.  That wouldn’t be a big deal, except the school psychiatrist that Kaleb has spent the year working with and building a relationship with has gotten a promotion, and they’re bringing in someone new.  So, it was decided that we’d wait until the fall to re-do the test – giving Kaleb an opportunity to make sure he’s got his feet firmly planted under him, and he has a relationship with the new psychologist.  On a plus note, I asked if I could have our Developmental Pediatrician do a test of his own in June when we go for our yearly visit, and they all strongly encouraged it.

And, on top of everything else – the school nurse is willing to go above and beyond the call of duty to administer Kaleb’s mid-day medicine.

Seriously, this school needs to win some “Everything Is Awesome” awards!

So, overall, this was the best IEP meeting ever.  I left feeling happy, a bit lighter, and definitely reassured that my child is in excellent hands day in and day out.  I can honestly say that’s never happened before.  I’ve always left feeling deflated, slightly disappointed, angry, or slightly sick.  This was such a breath of fresh air, and so desperately needed.

I want to say thank you to this school.  Your amazing teachers, support staff, therapists, behavioralists, and administration have taken a load off my mind, improved my child’s life every day, and I truly believe there aren’t enough ways to say thank you for that.